Our venerable father John Climacus is the author of The Ladder of Divine Ascent. John came to Mount Sinai as a sixteen year old youth and remained there, first as a novice, later as a recluse, and finally as abbot of Sinai until his eightieth year, when he reposed, in about the year 649. After the death of his spiritual father, John withdrew into a cave, where he lived a life of strict asceticism for twenty years. At the insistence of the brotherhood, John agreed to become abbot, and he directed the salvation of the souls of men with zeal and love. Certain people reproached John for talking too much. Not at all angered by this, John nevertheless remained silent for an entire year. He did not utter a word until the brothers implored him to speak, and to continue teaching them his God-given wisdom. During his silence in the cave, John wrote many worthwhile books, of which the most glorious is The Ladder. In this book, John describes the method of raising the soul to God, comparing it to the climbing of a ladder.
We find your virtues to be a ladder leading us to heaven, O venerable father John. You have become virtue personified, O glorious saint.
The Lord has placed you on the pinnacle of chastity, O father John, our guide. Like a brilliant star you shed light on the earth.
Genesis 46: 1-7
When Israel set out on his journey with all that he had and came to Beer-sheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. God spoke to Israel in visions of the night, and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again; and Joseph’s own hand shall close your eyes.”
Then Jacob set out from Beer-sheba; and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob, their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons that Pharaoh had sent to carry him. They also took their livestock and the goods that they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and they came into Egypt, Jacob and all his offspring with him, his sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters, and his sons’ daughters; all his offspring he brought with him into Egypt.
Proverbs: 23:15 – 24:6
My child, if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad.
My soul will rejoice when your lips speak what is right.
Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always continue in the fear of the Lord.
Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.
Hear, my child, and be wise, and direct your mind in the way.
Do not be among winebibbers, or among gluttonous eaters of meat;
for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe them with rags.
Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old.
Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.
The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who begets a wise son will be glad in him.
Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice.
My child, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.
For a prostitute is a deep pit; an adulteress is a narrow well.
She lies in wait like a robber and increases the number of the faithless.
Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has strife? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
Those who linger late over wine, those who keep trying mixed wines.
Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly.
At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder.
Your eyes will see strange things, and your mind utter perverse things.
You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast.
“They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it.
When shall I awake? I will seek another drink.”
Do not envy the wicked, nor desire to be with them; for their minds devise violence, and their lips talk of mischief.
By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established;
by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
Wise warriors are mightier than strong ones, and those who have knowledge than those who have strength;
for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.
Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications – ecpubs.com
Wednesday, March 29 –